Early voting concerns officials

MALONE – Franklin County election commissioners are concerned about a law that may require them to provide for early voting.

A federal law is being considered that may require counties to let people vote 15 days before an election, county Election commissioners Kelly Cox and Veronica King said at a county board meeting last week. Cox said it would mean the county would have to keep five polling places open to voters during that time.

Cox and King said they are worried that it may be difficult for them to provide secure polling sites for that kind of extended period of time.

“You’re talking about inspectors for every one of those days of being there as an extra cost,” King said.

They said they don’t have the resources to post poll workers at five different locations for that amount of time, and they’d be concerned about the sites staying secure when they are shut down each night.

Cox said that since the county’s poll books wouldn’t be ready in time for early voting, so they wouldn’t know whether people voted twice without an electronic tablet used as a polling book. King said they’ve been looking for tablets for that purpose, and the least expensive ones are about $1,000 each.

King said there are a number of issues with the proposed law that have not been clearly thought out.

The commissioners asked legislators to send a letter to state and federal officials in opposition to the law.

“It smells like another unfunded mandate to me, a little bit,” said board Chairman David “Billy” Jones.

Jones said he’s usually in favor of anything that will help give people access to voting, but the county doesn’t have the resources for this type of provision.

Legislator Tim Burpoe, D-Saranac Lake, noted that people always have the option for absentee voting, which basically does the same thing as early voting, but it’s done through the mail so it doesn’t require the same amount of resources.